Diana McCullough, M.Ed.
How Are You Teaching?
Integration of Mind and Body
- DANCE 5177 Alexander Technique
Diana McCullough, lecturer in the Department of Dance, received teaching certification from Alexander Technique International, and was trained and mentored by Dale Beaver, Bob Lada, Robin Gilmore, and Meade Andrews. She initially studied the technique in the 1980’s with Barbara Conable. Here she shares her curriculum with colleagues at Ohio State and beyond.
The Alexander Technique is taught with criteria of students as co-creators, community building, relational learning, trust/vulnerability, curiosity cultivation and kindness as a foundation. Strategies McCullough infuses in the course include class format variety, demonstration/modeling, reflection/self-observation and experiential learning, each of which is highlighted in below. Students describe the Technique and the course as "life-changing." "I can think of no better learning outcome than that," McCullough notes.
The Alexander Technique was introduced to The Ohio State University in 1973 by William Conable, professor of cello in the School of Music. He taught the Technique until his retirement in 2008. By that time, 5 sections of up to 10 people met 2 hours a week each, and the course was always offered as a P/NP course. Students wrote papers and/or kept journals of their AT discoveries and experiences. Conable and his wife, also an Alexander Technique teacher, created Development of Body Mapping, an adjunct to the Technique. The current required text for the course is Barbara Conable’s How to Learn the Alexander Technique. Lucy Venable taught the Alexander Technique in her role as Dance Department faculty member for many years. Dale Beaver followed Lucy, and the course is currently taught by McCullough (2019 to present).
The Alexander Technique is a 120-year-old evidence-based somatic method designed to enhance psycho-physical functioning for the activities of daily life and the demands of the performing arts. The Technique teaches students how to best use the whole self through integration of mind and body. In addition, students acquire skills for prioritizing self-care, improving posture, releasing tension, and managing stress reactions.
- Syllabus Description and Learning Outcomes
- Course Structure and Content
- Expectations and Assessment/Evaluation
Instructional and Learning Strategies
In the span of each 90-minute class, students engage in multiple modalities for learning. With guidance, McCullough explains, students learn how to learn.
Conditions for Learning the Alexander Technique
As a gathering of playful, inquisitive and knowledge-seeking individuals, the class truly becomes a laboratory as defined by the university’s course description. Foundational criteria for the course include:
- Students as Co-Creators
- Community Building
- Relational Learning
- Curiosity Cultivation
McCullough insists, "Cultivating kindness, toward oneself and others, allows learning to occur. Fear-based learning, stress-based education, has no place in the understanding of the Alexander Technique, and indeed, prevents learning from happening."